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Spain, US to sign new destroyer deal ahead of Sanchez’s trip to Washington

Spain and the US plan to sign an agreement to deploy two extra US destroyers at the Rota Naval Base before 12 May, the official date set for Prime Minister Pedro S?nchez’s planned trip to Washington, where he will meet with US President Joe Biden.

Spanish Defence sources quoted by EFE confirmed the deal on Thursday. In the meantime, Madrid and Washington have exchanged internal documents to facilitate and speed up the deployment of the ships, the same sources added.

The two new US warships will join the other four of similar characteristics that the US has stationed at the US Navy Rota base to complete NATO’s anti-missile shield in Europe’s southern flank.

The agreement is expected to be signed in Spain on a date yet to be determined, but according to the same sources, the signature will certainly take place before S?nchez’s trip to the US.

The White House spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, announced on Wednesday the meeting between Biden and S?nchez, which will coincide with the campaign launch for the municipal and regional election in Spain, due on 28 May.

Both leaders will discuss the war in Ukraine and how to strengthen the bilateral relationship, reaffirm their commitment to the transatlantic bond and reiterate their full support for Ukraine.

Biden and S?nchez first announced the destroyers deal on the sidelines of the NATO summit held in Madrid in June 2022.

Last January, the Spanish Council of Ministers authorised the negotiation of a reinforced defence cooperation agreement with the United States, paving the way, among other measures, for the deployment of additional US warships in Spanish waters.

With the agreement, the US and Spain, a NATO partner since 1982, leap forward in constructing the Alliance’s anti-missile shield, whose first brick was put in 2014.

At the US Rota base operate four US destroyers, serviced locally by Spain’s state company Navantia.

(Fernando Heller

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